Electronic recycling event draws a crowd
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
By Jason Hardin, News & Record
(See photos of the E-Recycle Drive)
GREENSBORO - They sat in the sun like fossils in an electronic graveyard.
Monitors, printers, DVD players, televisions, keyboards, CPUs, all spread out in a hotel parking lot, their bone-white exoskeletons gleaming in the sun.
If it had a chip for a brain or ever felt electricity flow through its circuits, it was represented there - even rows of towering big screen TVs, the T-Rexes of the electronic dinosaur kingdom.
All were losers in the electronic Darwinism of the holidays, when an ocean of newly purchased electronic gadgets creates a corresponding ocean of freshly obsolete electronics.
And on Tuesday, they wound up in piles, ready to be dismantled, during a special holiday electronic waste recycling event at the Proximity Hotel.
The sheer volume of goods surprised recycling officials, who had to adjust the setup of the site on the fly after waiting cars began piling up on Green Valley Road.
Still, they were enthused about the heavy turnout. All those electronics in the parking lot meant that many fewer electronics in the landfill, where all kinds of heavy metals can trickle into the water supply.
"It's great," said Susan Heim, Guilford County's environmental services coordinator. "We got backed up out to the highway earlier."
Much of the demand might have come from the still-new concept of recycling electronics.
The city and county jointly run a electronic waste drop-off site on Patterson Street, but many who came Tuesday weren't aware of it, Heim said.
Those lining up in their cars to drop off electronics cited a desire to avoid sending harmful waste off to be buried in the landfill.
"I would never just put it in the regular trash," said Ashley Poteat of Greensboro, sounding horrified at the notion.
Poteat dropped off some old computer parts and phones, but not everyone has quite gotten the definition of e-waste yet.
"We had one gentleman bring a lava lamp," Heim said.
But that was an exception, and the electronics kept piling up.
Eddie Raynard, who oversees the e-waste program for the city, estimated the drive would net some eight tractor-trailer loads.
Their ultimate fate? Trucked up to Madison and dismantled.
But for a few hours, they could still hope for a reprieve, could imagine the parking lot as an Island of Misfit Electronics - not to mention a testament to the power of the American consumer.
Some ancient, some apparently no more than a few years old, if that, they sat stacked on pallets, a forklift weaving around the lines of cars.
Workers staggered under the unwieldy loads of awkward-to-carry televisions.
If you stretched the combined cords from end to end, it might reach all the way to West Wendover Avenue.
In the end, though, they were stacked, wrapped with plastic and loaded up.
But who knows? Perhaps the metals taken from the electronic corpses could end up in the circuits of the next generation of electronics.
Better. Stronger. Faster. From death, new electronic life.
And the cycle begins again.